Orioles make short-term intentions clear by trading Givens, Milone

August 30, 2020 | Luke Jones

If 10 losses in their last 12 games entering Sunday weren’t enough, the Orioles made clear the good vibes and postseason chatter spawned from a surprising 12-8 start were only a brief respite from reality.

Baltimore is still all about the future.

Prior to Sunday’s game against Toronto in Buffalo, general manager Mike Elias traded right-handed reliever Mychal Givens to Colorado and lefty starter Tommy Milone to Atlanta. In return, the Rockies sent minor league corner infielder Tyler Nevin, minor league middle infielder Terrin Vavra, and a player to be named later to the Orioles while the Braves will send two players to be named later.

Givens has been a mainstay in the Baltimore bullpen since 2015, posting a 3.32 ERA and averaging 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings over 336 innings spanning six seasons. After a mediocre 2019 campaign that included a 4.57 ERA, the 30-year-old was off to an excellent start with a 1.38 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 13 innings this season. Givens is scheduled to become a free agent after 2021.

Selected as a high school shortstop in the second round of the 2009 draft, Givens became a pitcher in 2013 and would reach the major leagues just over two years later. He had been a subject of trade speculation for the better part of two years before the Rockies tabbed him as a piece to augment their bullpen for a playoff run.

Upon completion of the trade, Milone was immediately scheduled to make his first start for the Braves in Philadelphia on Sunday night.

Signed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training in mid-February, Milone has been Baltimore’s best starters in this abbreviated season, pitching to a 3.99 ERA in six starts covering 29 1/3 innings and recording the Orioles’ only two quality starts. The 33-year-old has struck out a career-high 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings and has walked only four batters, a ratio making him attractive to a playoff contender like the Braves.

Milone becomes the second left-handed pitcher to be traded by Elias this month after reliever Richard Bleier was sent to Miami on Aug. 1. He’s also the second notable departure from the Orioles rotation over the last week after fellow veteran lefty Wade LeBlanc was placed on the 60-day injured list with a season-ending elbow injury on Tuesday.

To take the places of Givens and Milone on the active roster, the Orioles activated right-handed reliever Hunter Harvey from the 10-day injured list and recalled lefty Keegan Akin from the alternate training site.

Elias appeared to receive a good return for Givens on paper, acquiring the Rockies’ No. 7 (Vavra) and No. 14 (Nevin) prospects in the MLB Pipeline rankings. Vavra, 23, played shortstop and second base at Single-A Asheville last season, batting .318 with 43 extra-base hits, 52 runs batted in, 18 stolen bases, and an .899 on-base plus slugging percentage. The 23-year-old Nevin, son of former major leaguer and current New York Yankees third base coach Phil Nevin, batted .251 with 41 extra-base hits, 61 RBIs, and a .744 OPS while primarily playing first base for Double-A Hartford last season.

The question now becomes who might be the next Oriole to be traded with potential candidates including reliever Miguel Castro, infielders Jose Iglesias and Hanser Alberto, and starting pitcher Alex Cobb.